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There's one scene in The Batman when we get to see Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne clean up, put on a suit, and rub elbows with Gotham City's elite. But unlike previous Batman films, he's not doing it at a charity gala or an upscale hotel where he can flirt with the city's most beautiful women. This time he's at a funeral, and he barely looks like he took the time to comb his hair.
The playboy side of Bruce Wayne is an important part of many Batman stories, because many creators use it as yet another mask for Batman to hide behind. If Bruce is putting so much energy into his social agenda, to the point that he sometimes even does ridiculous things like absconding on his yacht with an entire ballet company, there's no way anyway would ever suspect him of being the Caped Crusader, right? But for The Batman, Pattinson and writer/director Matt Reeves had other ideas about where to take their young billionaire hero, and ditched the playboy side of him along the way. For Pattinson, that worked out just fine.
"When you think about Bruce Wayne, you kind of think he's a playboy, and then that's how he disguises himself, so no one knows he's Batman. As soon as you take that away, it made the character almost make more sense," Pattinson told EW. "There's something about a person who would be able to delineate three incredibly distinct personalities, and then just being able to switch them as an outfit at will. That's really way more sociopathic than someone who doesn't really have much more control over it and is compelled to put this suit on. It's kind of out of his control a little bit."
Pattinson's Bruce Wayne is relatively new to the masked vigilante gig, and it's clear from the very first scene just how devoted he is to what he's dubbed "The Gotham Project." He's driven to prove that he can actually make a difference in the city with the work he's doing, so much so that it's made him even more of a recluse than he perhaps already was. Alfred (Andy Serkis) repeatedly scolds him about spending the entire family fortune on the project, and urges him to keep up appearances, which is one of the reasons he ends up at the funeral in the first place.
But obsession with doing the work of Batman doesn't tell the entire story, because for Pattinson, that drive to be the Dark Knight is also masking the deep pain Bruce Wayne has never been able to fully reckon with, something that keeps him from embracing who Bruce Wayne could be outside the walls of the Wayne family home.
"Also, it made more sense with the grieving process as well if he hasn't gotten over being the 10-year-old boy who, in his mind, let his parents die," Pattinson said. "What he feels is himself, he thinks is an incredibly weak and vulnerable child, and he needs to have an entirely different alter ego to survive himself, let alone fight all the criminals of Gotham."
The Batman is in theaters now.